I took part in a collaboration with writer Peter Wyn Mosey– click to see what we came up with…
“Creativity is an inherent human quality of the highest order. When we create, we become more than the sum of our parts.” –Yanni
Aspasía S. Bissas
It’s probably no surprise to anyone that writers love words, and I’m no exception. I have words I like, words that annoy me, and a few that stand out as favourites. Here are ten words that I think are some of the most beautiful in the English language…
Meander has always been my favourite word: I love the meaning (totally appropriate to my own life, I might add) and how saying it sounds like its meaning. Meander is also a name for a winding border design formed by a continuous line:
I first heard this word on the X-Files episode “Eve” and it became an instant favourite. What an elegant way for a vampire to tell their victim they want to suck their blood. Keep it classy!
But if bloodletting is too messy for you, there’s always…
I love that there’s a word that describes something so specific. And it’s fun to say–go ahead and try it. Lexico also offers an additional, informal, definition: “to remove or dismiss someone from a position of power or authority.” Clearly a useful word on numerous levels.
I guess I really enjoy onomatopoeical words because susurrate is another one that sounds like its meaning. Every time I hear it I picture gentle breezes in gardens. You could even say the word is…
It just rolls off the tongue.
Sometimes it’s not the word itself, but where you learned it. Any Buffy fan will recognize “effulgent” as the word that earned William (AKA Spike) the mocking derision of several douchey Victorians for his “bloody awful” poem. Personally, I think the real crime was rhyming “’tis grown a bulge in’t” with effulgent, but the man was lovesick–he had bigger things to worry about than mediocre poetry. Effulgent actually has a lovely meaning and I think it needs to be put to use more often. Just watch the rhymes.
I like all versions of this word: luminesce, luminescent, luminescence. It’s a pretty word with a fun meaning–who doesn’t like glowing things (bio-luminescent mushrooms, for example)?
You can say you talk in your sleep, or you can use a word that makes you sound like a character from Shakespeare. Am I a sleep talker? No, my good sir; I am a somniloquist. Prithee stay the night and mark my somniloquay!
Magic, sorcery, enchantment–I like them all, but I think “ensorcell” best captures the awe and beauty of the beguiling arts.
There’s a delicacy inherent in the word frangible that’s lacking in the more prosaic fragile. Anything can be fragile, but only the most vulnerable are frangible. Or maybe that’s just me.
What do you think? Did I miss your favourite word? Share in the comments…
Aspasía S. Bissas
There are days (or weeks or months…) when the words don’t flow, the story no longer inspires, and it seems like no one cares about your writing, least of all you. Sometimes relentless malaise is a sign that maybe it’s time to reconsider your writing career. But when you have no doubt that writing is where you belong, yet you’re still asking “what’s the point?” maybe what you need are some words of advice and encouragement from others who’ve been where you are. Here’s what ten authors had to say about why you should keep going…
“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” -Richard Bach
“I know some very great writers, writers you love who write beautifully and have made a great deal of money, and not one of them sits down routinely feeling wildly enthusiastic and confident. Not one of them writes elegant first drafts.” -Anne Lamott
“Every writer I know has trouble writing.” -Joseph Heller
“Finish the damn book. Nothing else matters. Stop second-guessing yourself and write it through to the end. You don’t know what you have until you’ve finished it. You don’t know how to fix it until it’s all down on the page.” -Lauren Beukes
“A writer is a writer not because she writes well and easily, because she has amazing talent, or because everything she does is golden. A writer is a writer because, even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway.” -Junot Diaz
“Writing may or may not be your salvation; it might or might not be your destiny. But that does not matter. What matters right now are the words, one after another. Find the next word. Write it down.” -Neil Gaiman
“I believe myself that a good writer doesn’t really need to be told anything except to keep at it.” -Chenua Achebe
“I think new writers are too worried that it has all been said before. Sure it has, but not by you.” -Asha Dornfest
“Write like it matters, and it will.” Libba Bray
“You fail only if you stop writing.” -Ray Bradbury
Do you have a favourite encouraging quote or words of wisdom of your own? Share in the comments…
Aspasía S. Bissas
It’s been repeated so many times it’s cliché: write what you know.
But is it true?
Do you agree with William T. Vollmann, who said that you should indeed write what you know, and that you should also have as many experiences as possible in order to expand your knowledge?
Or do you believe Kazuo Ishiguro, who said writing what you know results in writing “a dull autobiography,” and essentially leads authors to stunt their imaginations and potential?
Or maybe you side with Ursula K. Le Guin, who absolutely agreed that you should write what you know, as long as you have a flexible definition of “know” (she happened to know quite a lot about alien planets, dragons, and the distant future).
You might even think Nathan Englander has a good point when he says you should write what you know–emotionally. (This actually is excellent advice–writing about an emotion you’ve never felt might seem like a good idea, but the sentiments will be obviously hollow to readers who have experienced it.)
For me, I think American author Meg Wolitzer sums it up best: write what obsesses you.
And I’ll also add: because writing should be about passion. When I wrote my first novel, what I knew was English Literature, so I wrote literary fiction. And there was nothing wrong with what I produced (I might even still publish it one day), except that the dark, macabre, supernatural things that warmed my geeky heart kept creeping into my early work. Now, it’s perfectly fine for a little para to mix with the normal, but when I realized those were the parts I enjoyed writing (and reading) most, I decided to focus on what obsessed me, starting with vampires, my lifelong fascination. I think my work is better now, and I certainly enjoy it more.
Whether you decide to write about what you know or not, you should always start from a place of passion, obsession, or love. Because if you’re not excited about what you’re writing, why bother?
If you want to see more about what authors have to say on this subject, check out this article on Literary Hub.
If you want to check out some of the dark and macabre things I’ve written (including two FREE stories) click here.
Aspasía S. Bissas